Cultural Bulletin
Cultural Bulletin is a quarterly magazine that provides an international view of creative work. We look to film, music, design and art as signifiers of our cultural moment.

Revisiting: O Yuki Conjugate - Scene In Mirage/ Soundtracks

Rereleased on reissue label Emotional Rescue, in 2017 - O Yuki Conjugate’s Scene In Mirage/ Soundtracks originally released in 1984 presents a record of instrumental proto-punk and synth-noir ambience. 

If the record was a soundtrack to a film it would likely be set in a totalitarian future with a society living under oppressive rule - not indistinct from an Orwellian nightmare or Blade Runner, in which the human form is regulated, subverted and sedated under the guise of optimisation but ultimately for control. The idea of numbing the wild animal inside is not just a futuristic ideal but is a cross-culturally widely appealing course of action - even an aspiration held in the personal realm. Beyond feeding children with too much energy and not enough focus (ADHD) amphetamines, we regularly dose up ourselves with sedatives (sleeping pills, alcohol, weed, anti-depressants and a plethora of prescription meds) as if we understand that, really, we should be more agreeable. 

Expanding this thread, Scene In Mirage is experienced from the first-person perspective of someone heavily sedated in the 'utopia', wandering around and blissed out. Maybe here, maybe not - track 8 From Here to Where poignantly captures what would likely be a transiently experienced high-point of being routinely micro-dosed into sedation. However, Missing Brain Scan, presents how stressful and confusing it might be when, for example, you’re busy at work and frantically search for the medical records you probably misfiled. 

O Yuki Conjugate balanced the pendulum between serenity and anguish through oscillating the pace of Scene In Mirage between ambient offerings and high-tempo drum machine driven cuts. It’s sonically driven by lovely classic analogue synth sounds that are soaked in warmth and hazy edges. Musically, the record can warble and distort the component pieces to transition a track from mirage to serene to subdued nightmare to panic. 

Viewed from a wider lens, Scene In Mirage communicates the repetition and patterns of a culture that is unbalanced but oscillating in its own dysfunctional rhythm - not at the moment of implosion but not at the peak-point of its desired outcome. Track 14, Flute Cloud, communicates the unhealthy, nullifying ambience that would have been in the air of Huxley's Brave New World. The record ends as if the transmission into the future is fading for us in a story that will carry on for a long time to come, the ending is indiscriminate in this sense. The allure of the future is both its exotic otherness but also the opportunity to more potently distil nuanced aspects of our reality, after-all, a vision of the future is best served as a means to understand our present situation. AG

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